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If you’re new to sports betting in the U.S., you may find the different types of bets and odds a bit confusing. But don’t worry – this comprehensive guide will walk you through the basics of American sports betting odds and help you understand the different types of bets available at online sportsbooks.
What are American Sports Odds?
American sports betting odds are a way of expressing the probability of an event occurring. These odds are expressed in different formats, including moneyline, point spread, and total (also known as over/under) odds.
Moneyline odds are the most straightforward odds to understand. They are expressed in positive or negative numbers, with the positive number indicating the underdog and the negative number indicating the favorite.
For example, if you see a moneyline of +150, this means that if you bet $100 on the underdog and they win, you will receive a payout of $150. If you see a moneyline of -200, this means that you need to bet $200 on the favorite to receive a payout of $100 if they win.
For example, you could go to DraftKings Sportsbook and see NBA odds that look like this:
- New York Knicks (+200)
- Miami Heat (-250)
In this game, the Knicks are the underdog, as underdogs are always denoted by a “+” in front of its moneyline odds. If you bet $100 on the Knicks at (+200), you’ll win $200 in profit if New York wins.
The Heat are the moneyline favorite in this case, denoted by the “-” sign in front of the moneyline odds. You would win $100 in profit for every $250 wagered on the Heat at (-250) odds.
Point Spread Odds
Point spread odds are a way of leveling the playing field between two teams. The point spread is a number that is added or subtracted from a team’s score at the end of the game.
For example, if the point spread is -5.5 and you bet on the favorite, they must win the game by at least 6 points for your bet to be a winner. If you bet on the underdog, they can lose the game by up to 5 points and your bet will still be a winner.
Suppose the point spread on the Knicks-Heat game described above looked like this:
- New York Knicks (+5.5)
- Miami Heat (-5.5)
Suppose the Heat win the game 106-102. Knicks bettors would win on the point spread, as the 5.5 points added to New York’s total gives the Knicks more points than the Heat.
Total (Over/Under) Odds
Total odds, also known as over/under odds, are based on the total number of points that will be scored in a game. You can bet on whether the total points scored will be over or under a certain number set by the sportsbook.
For example, if the total is set at 48.5 and you bet on the over, the total number of points scored by both teams must be 49 or higher for your bet to be a winner. If you bet on the under, the total number of points scored must be 48 or lower.
Let’s look at the Knicks-Heat example one more time:
- New York Knicks (O/U 207.5)
- Miami Heat
The totals line is set at 207.5 for this game. If the contest ended 106-102 (208 total points), bettors on the over would win.
Futures bets are bets on events that will occur in the future, such as which team will win the Super Bowl or which player will win the MVP award.
Let’s look at an example of futures odds on the NBA Championship:
- Boston Celtics (+185)
- Denver Nuggets (+225)
- Los Angeles Lakers (+375)
- Philadelphia 76ers (+800)
- Golden State Warriors (+900)
- Miami Heat (+1600)
- New York Knicks (+6600)
Note that these futures lines use American odds notation. Futures odds for a league championship are generally available year-round, with a new set of lines coming out as soon as a championship is decided in a particular league.
Prop bets, or proposition bets, are bets on specific events that may occur during a game. For example, you could bet on which player will score the first touchdown or which team will win the coin toss.
Let’s take a look at an example of an NFL prop bet from the Super Bowl:
How will the first points of the Super Bowl be scored?
- Touchdown (-235)
- Field Goal (+165)
- Safety (+2800)
The safest, but lowest-paying line in this prop bet goes with a touchdown as the game’s first score. The safety line is very unlikely to hit, but pays big.
Parlay bets are bets that combine two or more bets into one. In order to win a parlay bet, all of the individual bets must be winners.
You can click on various bets at an online sportsbook, and your bet slip will show how much a parlay on those combined bets would pay.